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Indigenous Peoples' Day Celebration at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Indigenous Peoples' Day at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.png
Posted at 5:03 PM, Oct 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-11 20:12:34-04

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) -- The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is celebrating Indigenous Peoples' Day for the first time today, honoring local tribal culture.

Storytelling the Kumeyaay way, jewelry made by local artisans, dancing, and music. It's a showcase of the native peoples of this land.

"It's a way to honor the first people that were here in this valley since time and Memoriam. That's the San Pasqual Kumeyaay People," Johnny Bear Contreras, San Pasqual Band Elder, said.

For the first time, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is celebrating Indigenous Peoples' Day. Where there are usually animal shows, Monday, Kumeyaay elders were telling the 'Creation story' centerstage.

"So it came time to create the universe," Dr. Stan Rodriguez, Kumeyaay Elder, said.

You may be wondering what the connection is between Safari Park and the indigenous people? It gets a little deep.

"When you are talking about saving species and the interconnectedness of all of us with our planet and all the wildlife, it's really important to hear every voice," Lisa Peterson, Executive Director of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, said.

Every voice, including those who were here long before Christopher Columbus or any other settler: those who were stewards of the land and animals.

"I love that so many indigenous cultures, they take what they need, and not more. They use what they need and not more. And they work in that rhythm of all the resources in the area," Peterson said.

It's a special partnership that started a year ago, a partnership that they hope lasts forever.

"[It's important] that we all come together as a community and share with each other and have respect for each other see each other," Contreras said. "To everybody out there, I say, 'Howka. Welcome. If you haven't been here, come on down and check it out.'"

Zoo officials said they hope to bring back the unique showcase as an annual event.